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Amateur metal detectorist unearths an 18-carat gold ring from 1834

Amateur metal detectorist unearths an 18-carat gold ring from 1834 on a beach in Sussex and uses Facebook to unravel the tale of its owner who had it made to remember his beloved wife

  • 18-carat ring was found on lancing beach by an amateur metal detectorist 
  • Inscribed with name Elizabeth Honywood and the date 29th September 1834 
  • Is thought it was made by husband Thomas Honywood to mourn his wife’s death
  • The ring is being reunited with the distant descendants of the original couple  

An amateur metal detectorist who stumbled across a gold ring from 1834 plans to reunite it with the owner’s great, great, great, great niece. 

The 18-carat band is inscribed with the name of Elizabeth Honywood and her date of death on 29th September 1834.

It is believed the ring was made by her husband, Thomas Honywood, who bought the ring after the passing of his beloved wife. 

He is thought to have had the ring designed as an accessory that attaches to his cane so the memory of his betrothed will be by his side at all times.  

The emotive ring was found by hobbyist Geoff Smith, 51, in the shingle of Lancing beach who was scouring the area at night with his headlamp. 

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The 18-carat band is inscribed with the name of Elizabeth Honywood and her date of death on 29th September 1834 as well as appropriate hallmarks

The 18-carat band is inscribed with the name of Elizabeth Honywood and her date of death on 29th September 1834 as well as appropriate hallmarks 

It is believed the ring was made by the husband of Elizabeth Honywood, Thomas Honywood, who bought the ring after the passing of his beloved wife. He is thought to have had the ring designed as an accessory that attaches to his cane

It is believed the ring was made by the husband of Elizabeth Honywood, Thomas Honywood, who bought the ring after the passing of his beloved wife. He is thought to have had the ring designed as an accessory that attaches to his cane

The ring was found by hobbyist Geoff Smith (pictured)who was scouring the area at night with his headlamp

The ring was found by hobbyist Geoff Smith (pictured)who was scouring the area at night with his headlamp

Mr Smith has been using his metal detector as a hobby since 2015 and says he found the ring during darkness several weeks ago. 

It appears the golden ring was fashioned into a top which can be fitted to a walking cane. 

But upon closer inspection, Liz Honywood and the date – 29th September 1834 – were still etched deeply into the gold.

Mr Smith, who lives near the beach, said: ‘It was just poking out of the sand.

‘I saw it with my headlamp as it was dark. At first i thought it was the bottom end of a lightbulb as it’s a memorial ring that’s been reshaped to go on the end of a walking cane or something like that.

‘It’s 18-carat gold and was made in 1834. Inside the ring you have all the hallmarkings. I was astounded.’

Mr Smith turned to his local community via Facebook for help identifying the original owners. 

A member discovered that Elizabeth Morth had married Thomas Honywood in 1810 in Horsham, West Sussex.

The ring was found in the shingle of Lancing beach (pictured). Plans are in place to reunite the ring with the owner's great, great, great, great niece

The ring was found in the shingle of Lancing beach (pictured). Plans are in place to reunite the ring with the owner’s great, great, great, great niece

It appears the golden ring was fashioned into a top which can be fitted to a walking cane and was made following the death of Elizabeth Honywood

It appears the golden ring was fashioned into a top which can be fitted to a walking cane and was made following the death of Elizabeth Honywood 

The Honyrood couple had no children and she died in 1834, the same year the ring was made in Sheffield. Mr Smith speculates that the ring may have been made following her demise to cherish her memory

The Honyrood couple had no children and she died in 1834, the same year the ring was made in Sheffield. Mr Smith speculates that the ring may have been made following her demise to cherish her memory

They had no children and she died in 1834, the same year the ring was made in Sheffield.

Mr Smith speculates that the ring may have been made following her demise to cherish her memory.  

Further research revealed the entire Honywood family tree and revealed some descendent still lived locally.  

Liz Honywood had two sisters, one of which was Anna Morth, born in 1875, who married George Simpkin on March 1, 1819.

Unlike her sister, Anna did have children and a direct descendent of hers, Vivian Garner, was found who lived in the same town but died in 2013. 

Her three grandchildren however, Alexina, Stephen and Emmi, are still alive. 

Mr Smith and Alexina – the great, great, great, great niece of Elizabeth Honywood -are due to meet to return the family heirloom back to its rightful owners.  

Mr Smith said: ‘I was chuffed when I found the ring but I always return anything that’s returnable.

‘And when you have the name written right across it you have to make the effort to give it back.’ 

HOW DO METAL DETECTORS WORK?  

The invention of the metal detector cannot be truly claimed by one person. 

It is a combination and amalgamation of several different pieces of technology. 

Alexander Graham Bell did fashion a device that was an electromagnetic, metal locating machine.

This was based on a device invented by physicist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove. 

Sometime later, an engineer Gerhard Fischer, filed a patent regarding a design. 

A metal detector consists of a stabiliser, control box, shaft, and search coil. 

It is the two coils that are actually responsible for the detection of metal. 

The outer coil is the transmitter coil while the inner coil is the receiver coil. 

This works to detect and amplify frequencies. This type of technology is known as Very Low Frequency or VLF technology. 

When electricity is provided to this transmitter coil, there is a magnetic field created around the coil.

This is the same science behind electromagnets.  

When the machine wafts over metal the electrons in the metal – due to its metallic bonding and sea of electrons surrounding a fixed positively charged mass –  are affected by the magnetic field. 

The change in the electrons triggers a tiny electrical field in the metal object which alters the frequency of the metal detector. 

This indicates  metal is present.  

More advanced metal detectors are also able of differentiating between different types of metal ad the frequency change is different and therefore the pitch of the note is altered. 

Source: The Detectorist 



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